Top 5 Differences Between Aerial Photography And Drone Photography

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Top 5 Differences Between Aerial Photography And Drone Photography

Here in the office, between damagingly strong coffees, we often discuss how we should word our pages and blog articles. We agonise over the differences between aerial photography and drone photography. Discussions rarely descend into shouting, but result in passive aggressive sign offs like, 'Call it what you want, you know best'.  In my soothing manner, I ask if someone needs a hug? Doors slam and the question of whether we are Drone Photographers or Aerial Photographers rolls on. Subsequently, our website uses the terms interchangeably, and I imagine will continue to do so. However, in my quiet moments I ponder the question still. I'd like to ponder serious questions like 'does politics need to be so polarised?' or 'who'd win a fight between a dolphin and a pony?', but they're beyond my pay grade and are best left to specialists.

Knocking this question into some an answerable shape requires looking at the various things that could reasonably fall under the term 'Aerial Photography'. Being a man of little empathy, and having an almost pathological trust in numbers, let's take the first obvious question...

How High Do You Have To Be?

Ok, we're talking about altitude, not psychic self exploration! Where does being 'aerial' event start and end? We'll ease our selves in with the highly uncontentious question of height.

What Sort Of Pictures Do You Want?

Depending on conditions and subject matter, some forms of aerial photography are better than others. Do you need breath taking views of storm systems over Africa? (we bless the rains). Awesome views of autumnal forests clinging to alpine passes? Footage of actors wrecking expensive vehicles? Pictures or video of people and things on a human scale?

What Price Will You Pay?

Every service has a price. Where would you draw the line to get the images you want?

How Will You Be Treated?

It's important to be nice, but it's nice to be important. Do you want to play second fiddle to the needs of the company providing services you commission?

Satellite Aerial Photography

Stop booing, we've got to start somewhere! While it may seem a bit too high, lets face it, we all use photographs provided by satellites every day. Whether you are checking Google Earth to see if it shows the rusting trampoline you got rid of 5 years ago, or trying to finally understanding the actual layout of your home town...' I didn't know district X was next to district Y!', these aerial images are in the fabric of your life.  Flyweight Filming attempted to branch into this area of aerial imaging, but with launch costs of £700,000 per kilo, it's a bit rich for our blood. The less meticulous part of me wanted to say this is definitely 'Aerial' and not at all 'Drone'. However, my inner pedant demanded a more meticulous approach, and duly won a concession. The definition of 'Aerial', according to my extensive, single Google search states, 'existing, happening, or operating in the air'. Now, I'm no Elon Musk, my car still runs on fossil fuels (sorry), but I know satellites operate in space, where only dogs can hear you scream, and there's definitely no air! So for the purposes of our discussion, it is neither aerial nor drone. However, it does produce photography and I did get a paragraph of copy out of it, so it's not all bad.

  • Affordability: Not Great. 1 x Panasonic GH4, Batteries, Insulation, Big Lens... Around $1,400,000
  • Practicality: Fine until you need to get the SD card.
  • Image Quality: If you own the Himalayas, contact Space-X for some lovely pictures for your wall.
  • Turnaround Time: Next mission to retrieve equipment, or wait for orbital decay to deliver your kit back to the surface.
  • Customer Service: If you can't talk Phd Engineering, don't bother.

Spy Planes : SR 71 Blackbird

This scary monster with its macabre alien form is the  first contender in our list for the title 'aerial something'. Granted, it's not cheap, but my word, for getting pictures one country at a time, she's hard to beat. While this plane definitely flies in the air (my inner pedant agrees), there's so little of it at 85,000 feet, the Pilot and Reconnaissance Systems Officer  wear space suits to survive. By staving off suffocation and complete moisture loss due to personal boiling activities, they won numerous photography competitions between 1966 and 1999 when NASA updated its friendliness quotient.

  • Affordability: National Debt Levels. Around $2,000,000 per flight. (Photo processing costs included, which sounds fair to me).
  • Practicality: Average (If you are bent on world domination)
  • Image Quality: Fair, though not  great for portraits.
  • Turnaround Time: Pictures are yours as soon as the government releases them.
  • Customer Service: A tad formal, but most definitely dot the I's & cross the T's.

Cessna 172

Now we're into the altitudes, speeds and prices that count as civilian, practical and somewhat affordable. The Cessna 172 conjures wonderful images of well healed American families cooing at lakes and forests, while dads occasional flying doesn't seem to worry the wife and kids a jot. His part share of this aircraft enables him to maintain the bare minimum flying hours  while exercising  his trust in a thorough and ongoing  maintenance program. It's not just an elaborate SUV though, it is also a workhorse for a number of applications, aerial photography included. For particular types of aerial photography, this kiddie is king. To capture large geographic features and landscapes, you can equip it with a man called Lance. Lance is missing fingers, has cracked ruddy skin on his face, and used to photograph natural disasters until his wife left, citing 'stress'. She took the picture of Lake Tahooma-Bose though, because it's beautiful and difficult to reach by foot. If your subject is at human scale, and that of their structures and belongings, aerial photography by plane is probably not for you. If you want rare pictures of sulphurous lakes on remote mountain plateaus (I know I do), then this is the only way forward.

  • Affordability: A bit extravagant. Not much change from £1000 for a dedicated flight. But Ok  if you are a well off family with a love of large geographical features.
  • Practicality: Not bad, certainly more so than a SR-71 Blackbird. Can't legally fly below 500ft in the UK, and hasn't mastered the tricky operation of remaining still in the air.
  • Image Quality: Very Good. Lances' wife didn't just take the picture out of spite.
  • Turnaround Time: Pretty good, but Lance is sooo busy with his creative cooperative. Buy him a pint and he'll tell you about it.
  • Customer Service: Excellent for calls placed between 10:30 and the start of lunch time.

Helicopter Photography & Filming.

Now you're talking. We're into the sexy realms of high manoeuvrability and staying still in the air without any crashing penalties. Damn the cost, you're getting the real deal. There's not a mirrored pair of sunglasses left in this town. The pilot's a maverick and the cameraman's a rascal. Between them, for reasonable remuneration, they'll film a Porsche shoot off  a mountain road, tumbling and flailing it's way into a ravine,doors flapping wildly like your mate that can't dance. At no additional cost, cut back to the hero chasing a lorry on stolen motorbike. What a lorry is doing riding a motorbike is anyones guess, but that's the crazy world of Hollywood. There's no doubt that helicopters have provided some of the best movie moments in history. For this I salute them and their charming crews.

  • Affordability: Who cares, this picture needs to be made. Get me someone called Harvey on the phone!
  • Practicality: Helicopters have proven their worth, but are quite noisy and blow your set over when too close.
  • Image Quality: Second to none. Nothing provides better images of wealthy people in speed boats.
  • Turnaround Time: Yesterday..possibly tomorrow.. Depends whether we go for a re-shoot.
  • Customer Service: Their office oozes nonchalant sexiness. Hold on to that.

UAV & Drone Aerial Filming & Photography

aerial photography drone

They go by many names: Drones, UAV, SUSA, Nigel, call them what you will. They are to aerial photography what silicon chips are to laying off accounts staff from depressing corporations. To make vast amounts of difficult calculations, a leap of technology so earth shattering had to take place, the world would never be the same. The epoch defining invention of integrated circuits enables you to see endless photos of cats, wine bottles and feigned delight while expending no energy at all. This degree of ease and versatility has found its way to Photography, leading us back to our original question. What is aerial versus drone photography? We've seen traditional aerial photography is a niche pursuit for a limited set of people and organisations. Through its difficulty and expense, it allowed privileged and rare access to views unobtainable to anyone else. For decades we've seen the superb images provided by these wonderful platforms for governments and conglomerates. But they too have their limitations, separated from their subjects by speed and distance, the shark like need to be constantly on the move devours vast resources. However, It's now possible for normal people and small businesses to get aerial photography at a human scale and cost. A drones capability to safely be in the action, then gracefully float away, revealing the bigger picture is  a trick other aerial photography platforms cannot match. The other magic ingredient they cannot match is the price! In the right hands, the photography & videography drones produce is opening up new and imaginative ways of seeing the world, and of course democratising the view of the world from above.

  • Affordability: For a CAA Approved drone photographer, prices can start from around £300 for a simple stills shoot.
  • Practicality: These aerial camera platforms can move between tight spaces indoors, near the ground all the way up to 400ft (legally)
  • Image Quality: Superb if you use professional grade equipment. Don't be fooled by someone who turns up with a drone you saw in Maplin.
  • Turnaround Time: Depending on the complexity of the shoot, from 24 hours to a few days for stills.
  • Customer Service: For independent companies on tight margins, the customer is king, queen, regent or emperor. That means great service all round.

So what do you want?

We hope this guide has been useful to you. It's certainly been useful to us and cleared up some definitions. We think it's most useful to concede , what we supply  is Drone Photography,  a proud member of the  Aerial Photography family. When you need aerial photography or aerial filming, consider what your subject matter is. Whether you need photos of continents or cars, mountains or men, there is the right aerial photography service for that. Whatever you need, we guarantee our craft, skill & dedication results in the best pictures at the best possible price. Flyweight Filming loves aviation, photography & videography. 



Video Production: Storyboards Save Money

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aerial video production storyboard image

Storyboards Stop Story Boredom

There's romance in the thought of a cigar puffing genius arriving on set, making a box with their hands, flopping into the 'big' chair and calling 'ACTION!. Then, out pops Blade Runner and it's all tears and hugging on the red carpet! But there's more to video production than that!

storboard action 1 capture

Rolling cameras are the tip of the iceberg. Before your genius bursts onto set, they need an intimate knowledge of what is required in terms of visual impact and story telling. The Directors vision comes from a complex series of processes forged at crowded tables with dangerous levels of caffeine. All forms of film or video production should go through this process. One device for ordering their thoughts is the 'Storyboard'. Once the story is known, the script has been written and re-written, a Storyboard is created. But why bother with crayons when you've got all those cameras? Well, even blockbusters have a budget and the studios are successful because they understand how important an actual return on their investment is. Randomly filming what you like until you've got the perfect footage is a recipe for disaster.

The storyboard is key to:

  • Ordering your thoughts about telling the story - Does it make sense?
  • Informing which shots, equipment, props and locations are required - Am I bringing a knife to a gun fight?
  • Conveying the Directors ideas to the numerous people required to bring them to life - every one understands the vision.

Whether you are filming a Hollywood blockbuster or a promotional video for business, the Storyboard is vital. Flyweights video production clients are acutely aware of budget, and making sure it pays them back. Businesses don't commission videos for  vanity, but from a need to expand their customer base, explain their offering and reinforce brand identity.  By understanding our clients needs and carefully planning the final product, we maximise ROI by executing the plan in an ordered and disciplined way. If the production company you approach does not think this way, you are simply paying for someone elses hobby.


Video Production Case Study

If you're selling fun, make it fun!

Shutting down operations to let a production company in can be a daunting, so you need them to understand  what your restrictions are. Don't be afraid to say; you are the client and they work to your requirements. Once these are are known, the production company will work with you to plan, script, storyboard and shoot your video in a way that fits your budget and schedule.

This client had limited time as they are a busy Ski Slope running from morning to evening. It was important to devise a shoot we could complete in half a day.  We required both ground based and aerial filming to produce the right look and tempo. By carefully planning and storyboarding the shoot, we were able to convey our idea to the client, then complete the shoot in about 5 hours. Everyone worked well together because we understood what we needed to do to. By organising the day according to a well planned schedule, we got all the footage we needed to assemble to a fun, upbeat promotional video for our client to use in their marketing.

Friends Go Skiing

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storyboard 3 capture

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To Meet Their Friends

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storyboard 7 capture

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storyboard 10 capture

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Put Their Gear On

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storyboard 19 capture

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Enjoy Life

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storyboard action 4 capture

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storyboard action 2 capture

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storyboard action 6 capture

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Produced Promo Video

After the shoot is complete, we go to the editing suite to colourise, chop, speed up, slow down, add titles, audio, and finally release it to our client.



It Pays To Hire CAA Approved Drone Operators

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CAA Approved Drone Operator

Popularity Of Hobby Drones

With Christmas just weeks away, you don’t have to look very far to find drones being plugged as perfect Christmas present for the gadget lovers everywhere. But, you also don’t have to search very hard to find home made videos of drone disasters, some with potentially dangerous outcomes.  Getting your hobby drone stuck in a tree is one thing, but when an unidentified drone came close to hitting an Airbus A320 as it landed at London’s Heathrow during the summer, hobby droning suddenly became a front page issue. Having crossed over from just being used by military specialists, drones are now becoming a niche hobby for RC enthusiasts everywhere.  What is effectively an aircraft, needs careful and structured rules and regulations in order to not only ensure that they are flown safely, but also to protect the privacy of those on the ground. If you are thinking of using drone footage for your commercial venture, you will need to ensure that you chose a provider who is fully accredited and correctly qualified. It Pays To Hire CAA Approved Drone Operators. Read on to find out why.

Safety & The Law

The issues surrounding unsafe drone flight apply to more scenarios then the big headline mentioned above. Be in no doubt, a 2kg object moving at 30 – 40mph can do a lot of damage to people and property. To get an idea of this, imagine dropping a 4lb club hammer from a two story building onto someones head. Yes, these are the kind of energies we are talking about here. It is not a trivial matter. A CAA approved drone operator will always ensure that a full risk analysis is carried out before any flight takes place. They will also ensure their equipment is serviced and in great condition. CAA approved  drone operators will usually work in teams of two or three to ensure the flight operations area is safe, clear and managed. Please keep in mind, if a drone operator charges you money but does not have CAA approval, they are breaking the law.

Public Liability Insurance

‘Sorry’ just won’t cut it if your drone operator has injured someone, damaged property or rendered a work place inoperable. A CAA approved drone operator MUST have public liability insurance in case of the worst case scenario. However, the chances of a CAA approved drone operator making a critical mistake through ignorance or recklessness is massively lower then that of an illegal operator or hobby flyer. In very rare cases where the unforeseen happens, mandatory, substantial PLI cover goes a long way to putting things right for anyone involved.

Accountability

A CAA approved drone operator is accountable to both the CAA and the Police. Unsafe practices can and should be reported so they can be thoroughly investigated. It is important to note that a CAA approved operator must report all incidents to the CAA and must be able to demonstrate they are flying to the letter of their operations manual, which the CAA approved as part of granting the operators Permission For Aerial Work / Permission For Commercial Operations (PfAW/PfCO).

Quality

As a paying customer your primary concern is the quality of the aerial photographs, aerial video or aerial survey you have commissioned. The operating characteristics of professional UAV (drones) far exceeds those of high street hobby drones. This results in smoother and more refined flight paths (in the right hands). The flights are carefully planned by the pilot and camera operator, then executed efficiently and safely in the air. The cameras  on professional equipment are vastly superior to those on hobby drones, which results in high quality images free from fish eye, data loss and aberrations. The aerial photographs or aerial footage are not the end of the story. Frequently you need the images to be edited or processed to get compelling results. This is factored into our prices, and those of many other CAA approved operators. What initially seemed like a saving ends up becoming an expense if you have to commission video editing from a third party with whom you have no ongoing relationship and little room to negotiate.

Choose a qualified drone pilot for your aerial photography

Professional drone pilots (like ourselves) are fully CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) certified and have undertaken extensive training to ensure we know how to operate our drones safety and effectively. Using qualified pilots for a commercial project is an absolute must.  As a professional aerial photography company covering London, Essex and the South East, our pilots are fully qualified, which means we:

  • Have studied how to operate drones within the law, abiding by navigational orders and guidance laid down by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
  • Have gained Unmanned Aircraft Qualifications (UAQ)
  • Have gained the Permission for Aerial Work / Commercial Operations (PFAW/PFCO) certificate
  • Have public liability insurance
  • Have carefully created a CAA approved operations manual, setting out procedures to stringently asses and mitigate risk, flying as safely as possible.

So, if you need to capture stunning, top quality digital aerial photography for your marketing video, promotional material or website, contact us  or speak to our fully qualified pilots today on 01277 200455.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Golf Air Shots You Want!

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aerial filming golf hole

Fore! Seasons In One Day.

We find ourselves surprised and challenged by our customers requests here at Flyweight Filming.  A recent call from a golf club has resulted in a round that will take a year to complete. While aerial photography and videography is normally a one shot deal, this time it is quite different. Our client has laid down the gauntlet and told us we need not be embarrassed about taking multiple air shots!

Autumn

His brief was simple:

This golf course is open all year, Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter and I want the flyover videos to reflect that! As we fly from Tee to Green, viewers must see the hole seamlessly transition through the seasons.

We’ve become familiar with this effect in stills photography where images are composited, and when done well they are truly remarkable. However, they are technically challenging even for still photography.

The task is exponentially bigger when aerial filming is involved. There can be no CGI jiggery pokery, just honest to goodness blending of footage into a single 10 – 15 second video clip. Here at Flyweight Filming we pride ourselves on being meticulous and thorough in our planning. Whether it is for an aerial photography or aerial filming project, we leave nothing to chance. We are also lucky enough to have a great team allowing us to leverage a range of skills to tackle problems of technology, piloting, camera craft and film production. That said, planning this mission is as close as we’re going to get to working at NASA, because once committed there ain’t no going back!

The only way to guarantee identical flight paths on each of our visits is to make this an exercise in maths & surveying. There can be no free flight on this mission, because as accurate as we are, we can’t guarantee inch perfect placement as the UAV gets down range. For this particular piece of aerial filming, only inch perfect will do. We have distilled the data from several sighting runs into a programmed flightpath for re-use every time. With the first run in the can, it’s back to our calculators to determine the exact moment of take off to ensure shadows hit the ground identically next time.

Tune in regularly to follow this projects development… When we say regularly, that’s once a season!

Flyweight Filming loves to film and produce unique and original still and moving images. Give us a call on 01277 200455 or Contact Us to talk about your aerial filming or aerial photography project.